Visiting Great Malvern | A Day Out By Rail

Looking for a great day out or even a weekend break by train? How about Great Malvern? The lovely spa town of Great Malvern, in Worcestershire, is known as the gateway to the Malverns. The spa town offers a wonderful mix of natural landscapes, history, music and culture making it a great holiday destination.

Malvern Hills


Top things to see and do in Great Malvern

We recently enjoyed a day out by rail in Great Malvern and loved it. Here are some of the things you can do during your visit to Great Malvern.

Priory Gatehouse / Malvern Museum

What was once the Priory Gatehouse is today the Malvern Museum. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade II Listed building and houses a small collection of items that tell the story of Malvern. When you walk under the Gatehouse's archway, look up and you will see some of the original stone blocks and even the squint window where a monk would have been seated to check the identification of visitors to the priory.

The Abbey Gateway - Malvern Museum

The collection in the small museum is split into different sections like the Medieval Room which tells the story of the Benedictine monks, the Water Cure Room which explains the water treatments offered in Malvern and the 20th Century Room which features Malvern's recent achievements, etc.

The museum is run entirely by volunteers and is open most days of the week. There is a small entry fee which I think is worth it as the museum offers an excellent insight into Malvern's history and should be the first place you visit on a trip to Great Malvern.

The Abbey Gateway - Malvern Museum

Great Malvern Priory

Once a Benedictine monastery, the Great Malvern Priory is now a parish church. It is definitely worth a visit to see its beautiful, medieval glass windows, ancient ceramic tiles (some even date back to the mid-1400s) and 15th-century medieval misericords.

The Great Malvern Priory

Stained glass windows at Great Malvern Priory

Fun fact: C S lewis went to school in Malvern and in later years returned back to Malvern frequently along with his friend JRR Tolkien. It is believed that the gas lamp in Lewis' popular book 'Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' was inspired by Malvern's gas lamps. These lamps are an important part of the town's heritage and you can still see many of them dotted around the town including the Priory Churchyard (pictured below).

The Malvern Gas Lamps

Malvern Theatres

Malvern Theatres is a major centre for the arts in the West Midlands. It boasts a wide range of programmes including drama, comedy, music and dance. It hosted the first Malvern Drama festival in 1929 and since then has seen performances by popular names like Richard Dreyfuss, Charlton Heston, Leslie Nielsen, Donald Sutherland and more.

Malvern Theatres

If you visit, do check out some of the art that is displayed in the theatres like the 8-foot Water Clock by Bernard Gitton and the Jacob Fountain (a bronze sculpture of four water babies by Richard Goulden) dating back to 1930.

Priory Park

Next to the Malvern Theatres is Priory Park, a lovely green space that features a duck pond, a Victorian bandstand and a newly revamped play area for children. It was formerly the gardens of the Priory Mansion which is today the town's Council House.

Priory Park in Great Malvern

Below: Malvern Council House - formerly a large private house called 'The Priory'

The Priory Mansion (Malvern Council House) in Great Malvern

The park has lots of lovely mature trees, a number of places to sit down and enjoy a picnic or simply take in the beauty of nature.

The Rose Bank Gardens

The Rose Bank Gardens is a part of the 'Route to the Hills' from the Great Malvern railway station and offers access to St Ann’s Well and the Malvern Hills via the '99 steps' path. 

The 99 Steps in Great Malvern

In the photograph above, did you notice the bench looks like a donkey? This is because at one time when the Water Cure Treatment was very popular, dozens of donkeys walked these routes carrying visitors up to St Ann’s Well or even beyond to the top of the hills.

The Rosebank Gardens in Great Malvern

The gardens include beautiful flower beds (which were in full bloom when we visited), benches to sit down and enjoy the views, picnic areas and a couple of interesting sculptures including the Diamond Jubilee Sculpture of Two Buzzards by Walenty Patel.

The Diamond Jubilee sculpture in Rosebank Gardens in Great Malvern

St Ann's Well

Once you have spent some time in the Rose Bank Gardens you can climb up the '99 steps' and continue up the zig-zag path through the woods to St Ann’s Well.

St. Ann's Well  in Great Malvern

Owned & managed by the Malvern Hills Trust, the Grade II listed building currently is home to a cafe. But back in the 1800s, it was primarily popular for its spring water and people came from far & near for the 'Water Cure Treatments'.

The marble spout and basin that you would see on site were donated by Lady Emily Foley in 1892.

The spout at St Ann's Well in Great Malvern

Malvern Hills

The Malvern Hills is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and a biological & geological Site of Special Scientific Interest too. It is managed by the Malvern Hills Trust and draws in thousands of visitors each year.

Malvern Hills Walks

Malvern Hills Walks

Malvern Hills Walks

There are a number of walks of varying lengths and difficulties to be enjoyed on the Malvern Hills. You could download the Malvern Hills Mobile Walking App that provides a range of informative self-guided walks with photos, instructions and GPS tracking.

Worcestershire Beacon

The Worcestershire Beacon, also known locally as The Beacon, offers beautiful panoramic views of Lickey Hills, The Wrekin, across the Severn Valley and even the Welsh border mountains.

There are several routes to get to the Beacon. We opted for the route that starts from the Great Malvern railway station stopping at the Great Malvern Priory, the Rose Bank Gardens and then up the 99 Steps to St Ann’s Well and then on to the highest point of the Malvern Hills, the Beacon.

Malvern Hills Walk

We visited on a clear, sunny day and the views were far-reaching and fantastic. 

View from the top of Malvern Hills

It can be very windy at the top and on a bright sunny day, it can be a bit draining as well as there is no shaded place on the top. It is best to be prepared.

Worcestershire Beacon on the Malvern Hills

At the Worcestershire Beacon in Malvern Hills

We spent some time on the top before retracing our steps back to Great Malvern and onto the railway station for our way back home.

Overall, it was a fun day out!

How to get to Great Malvern

Malvern has two railway stations on the Worcester to Hereford line - Great Malvern and Malvern Link. Both the stations have direct trains to/from Worcester, Hereford, Birmingham, Bristol, Cheltenham, Oxford and London.

If you are travelling from Birmingham, you could opt for West Midlands Railway's Birmingham New Street – Hereford train that calls at both Malvern Link and Great Malvern.

West Midlands Railways

We opted to take the train rather than drive down to Great Malvern and it turned out to be a great decision. Our journey on the West Midlands Railway route was fantastic and since most of Great Malvern can be explored on foot we did not miss not having a car at our disposal. Plus it was a greener way to travel!

From the Great Malvern station, we followed the 'Route to the Hills' which takes you past most of the town's major landmarks and on to the top of the Hills.

For information on how to get to Malvern by car or by bus, click here.

Days out by Rail

If 'days out by rail' has piqued your interest and you are looking for inspiration on places to visit, take a look at some of Britain's hidden gems by train, on Scenic Rail Britain's #DaysOutByRail page.

Whether it is off-the-beaten track places, destinations with spectacular views, budget-friendly family days out, fun days out with your or even scenic walking routes, the Scenic Rail Britain's website has loads of exciting ideas and suggestions. You will surely find something that will inspire you to enjoy #DaysOutByRail.


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